Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Thomas Aquinas on the Fecundity of Creation (and the Necessity of Gay Persons to Mirror God's Fecund Nature?)

These are two separate journal entries from the spring of 1990, on a similar theme:

A theological theme keeps popping into my mind. It has to do with the fecundity of creation. I have a notion that some classic theologians—Meister Eckhart? Julian of Norwich? Maybe even Aquinas?—have written on this theme. I don’t know that I’ve ever really seen this phrase: I’ve coined it in my mind to express the idea that the great diversity and richness of the created world points back to the diversity and richness of the creator.

I think this is significant as a theological grounding for Christian acceptance of sexual diversity—in accepting the much richer diversity of sexual orientation outside the bounds of natural law narrowly construed, Christians praise and acknowledge the largesse of the creator. I want sometime to study the theme of creation more specifically.

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I think I’ve written this elsewhere, but I believe Walden could be used as the basis for an interesting article on nature and homosexuality. Thoreau develops throughout the book a concept of nature as diverse, manifold, open-ended, that is at once philosophically profound and typically American (Transcendentalist).

This intersects well with the ideas I’ve sketched in previous journals on the fecundity of nature, as a basis for a gay-affirming ethic.

Brennan Hill, Paul F. Knitter, William Madges, in Faith, Religion, and Theology: A Contemporary Introduction (Mystic, CT: Twenty-Third, 1990), pp. 373-4, cite Aquinas, Summa, pt. I, ques. 47, art 1, to say that the multiplicity of life forms is necessary for us to appreciate the grandeur and infinite nature of God, that God brought things into being in order both to communicate divine goodness to them, and be represented by them via all their diversity. Diversity, Aquinas thinks, is necessary because what’s lacking to one in representing God’s goodness is supplied by another.

A biocentric or creation-centered ethic of homosexuality would thus see acceptance of gays as a requisite for appreciating God’s lavish goodness, the fecundity of the divine nature.

Also apropos here is Newman, “Preface to the 3rd Edition,” The Via Media of the Anglican Church: “Still more readily will that true theology, which teaches that He ever was a Father in his incomprehensible essence, accept and proclaim the doctrine of the fertility, bountifulness, and beneficence of His creative power . . . . ” (lxxii-lxxiii).